Monthly Archives: May 2009

Come, Holy Spirit

This Pentecost was marred by the shooting of George Tiller. Jesus says any sin can be forgiven except the “sin against the Holy Spirit.” The Fathers engage in much debate about what this is. It has come to be interpreted as despair, particularly despair expressed in suicide, which makes sense in the context. Jesus gives the teaching in Mark 3:29, after the Scribes accuse Him of driving out demons by the power of demons.

In other words, they are denying that the power of God can drive out demons.

Now, Jesus asks the rhetorical question of whether a house divided against itself can stand, but this must carry with it the realization that a) Satan’s house cannot stand and b) Satan’s house is divided against itself.

One of my great disappointments with most Christians today is the total lack of trust in Providence. Jesus could not be more clear on this:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

But Christians sure do worry a lot, about a lot of frivolous, worldly things: 401(k)s, stockpiling canned goods in case of social collapse, buying guns to protect themselves from possible looting gangs, eating “organic” foods so they can try to avoid getting cancer, torturing Muslims to prevent terrorist attacks, etc.

A bit more drastic, and apropros to this feast of Pentecost, is the passage that inspires certain varieties of Pentecostals:

“These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:17-18).

The person who shot George Tiller–though, it must be noted, we know nothing of this person’s motivations; maybe he was a campaign finance reform fanatic–was committing the sin against the Holy Spirit. He was denying God’s power to redeem the soul of George Tiller, as He redeemed the souls of Bernard Nathanson, Norma McCorvey, Sandra Cano, John Bruchalski, and so many other architects of the Culture of Death.

Wouldn’t this person have done so much more good if he’d been armed with a squirt gun full of holy water? If he’d handed Tiller a Miraculous Medal and dared him to wear it for a month, like Ven. Alfonse Ratissbonne? If he’d sprinked exorcism salt on Tiller’s head?

Why don’t Christians learn that the fundamental message of the Bible is to trust *God’s* way, not our own. Watch almost any episode of _Veggietales_. Read the anonymous letter to the Hebrews. The passages, often used by sola fide types, which talk of how the Old Testament saints were redeemed by their faith, not their personal righteousness, mean not their “intellectual belief” in God but their *trust.*

Abraham trusted God, and it was “credited to him as righteousness.” David was a “man after God’s own heart” because he ultimately trusted God’s promises to him. Yes, both these men had times where they failed to trust in God–and all sin boils down to failure to trust God–but when God called on them to extreme tests of faith, they pulled through.

There are so many issues which we consider “ethically complex” that become far less complex when we look at them from a Providentialist viewpoint, and when we look at them from a willingness to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus.

Breaking: George Tiller Shot to Death

Notorious abortionist George Tiller, who gave tens of thousands of dollars in donations to Kathleen Sebelius through dummy PACs, was murdered this morning on his way to attend a service at a Lutheran community (note to other Catholic bloggers: _Dominus Iesus_ forbids Catholics from using the term “Church” for entities that lack valid orders and valid sacraments).

This is horrible. A soul has been damned to Hell. He was an abortionist who died en route to attend a heretical service.

Another soul is in mortal sin, fleeing from the law.

The pro-life movement will have been set back decades. We were badly hurt by John Salvi, whose work only inspired Bernard Cardinal Law to have “common ground” discussions with abortion supporters.

This is just the excuse Obama needs to do what we all suspect he really wants to do.

Thinking about the “cycle of violence,” I was reminded of the US Bishops’ spiritual warnings regarding the consequences of executing Timothy McVeigh–consequences that were realized on September 11. That got me to thinking: “I wonder if McVeigh was executed on June 11?” Sure enough, he was. McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001, and the US bishops warned it would only “perpetuate the cycle of violence.” Three months to the day later, a worse act of terrorism than McVeigh’s happened.

When a society breaks the Natural Law, Nature itself rebels, and the social fabric is torn . Worse and worse violations keep happening until reparation is done. The Greeks understood this: it’s the principle that underlies Tragedy. Every culture that believes in a deity understands it.

The Culture of Death will keep breeding death until America adopts a culture of self-denial and self-sacrifice.

There is some question about praying for the soul of someone who is almost certainly in Hell, whether such prayer constitutes the sin of presumption or “wasted grace.” St. Augustine says that if you pray for someone who is actually in Hell, the grace applies to someone else. Anecdotes about alleged apparitions from souls in Hell suggest that such prayers make the soul’s torments worse.

Schwarzeneggar vows that Proposition 8 will be overturned–eventually

Cool piece on the usual ad hominems against the Church

Do the Qumran scrolls, the conflicts with the Byzantine/Orthodox Church, the Galileo affair, the modern day sex scandals, etc., compromoise the moral authority of the Catholic Church?

How soon they forget about Harriet Miers

Obama’s trying to reassure his base that Sonia Sotomayor is really pro-choice.

Republicans and pro-lifers are skeptical about the pro-aborts’ doubts.

Gee, I seem to remember that George W. “I have no intention of overturning _Roe v. Wade_” Bush nominated this woman named Harriet Miers, who had an ambiguous but left-leaning record on abortion, and pro-lifers (rightly) got into a tizzy, and at that time, liberals tried to say it was a smokescreen to get liberal senators to suppot the Miers nomination.

I hate being an apologist for an Obama pick, but I see a lot of promise in this woman, and I am ashamed of the reflexive flaming that pro-lifers are engaging in in this case.

To wit, here’s some wisdom from Peggy Noonan: “Republicans, let’s play grown up!”

St. Teresa of Avila on “dying of love”

“Such persons die with longing for Him to love them and so they will give their lives to learn how they may please Him better. Will they hide their love? No: if their love for God is genuine love they cannot. Why, think of Saint Paul or the Magdalene. One of these — Saint Paul — found in three days that he was sick with love. The Magdalene discovered this on the very first day. And how certain of it they were! For there are degrees of love for God, which shows itself in proportion to its strength. If there is little of it, it shows itself but little; if there is much, it shows itself a great deal. But it always shows
itself, whether little or much, provided it is real love for God.” (Way of
Perfection
, Ch. 40, para. 3
).

Cue the "X-Files" whistle: some state governments are cataloguing babies’ DNA

Now that the genome is mapped and genetic testing is being common, states are doing genetic testing of babies as part of the standard blood tests done at birth. The thing is that they’re not giving the parents the *results* of thoes tests.

Repair Stem Cell Blog: 12 articles on heart repair that are 6 years behind

As the US finally gets it about adult stem cell therapies.

The real reason for having one "big Mass" on days like Pentecost

Is to discourage people from going to Mass.

When in Milan, You Pray as the Milanese Do

The familiar expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” tends to be used to express a kind of laid back attitude towards life. The origin of the expressoin is actually advice given by St. Ambrose to St. Augustine. It is often “quoted” various ways, and one would think it is easier to identify the source (I should do a search of Christian Classics Ethereal Library to see what I can find out).

In either case, the expression derives from the fact that Milan has different liturgical traditions than Rome. So, St. Ambrose said to St. Augustine, regarding the different liturgical traditions of local churches at the time, “When I am in Rome, I observe the Roman fast. When I am in Milan, I do not.”

All of that gets to the fact that there is an ancient Rite in the Diocese of Milan and certain neighboring diocese known as the Ambrosian Rite (for St. Ambrose). Apparently, just as the Dominicans and the Old Observance Carmelites adopted the Liturgy of Vatican II, so, apparently, did the Diocese of Milan.
(The Dominican Rite was almost identical to the Gregorian Rite, except for mostly technicalities about candles and stuff; the Carmelite Rite, since the Carmelites were originally a Byzantine Order, was a kind of admixture of the Byzantine and Gregorian Liturgies). Note I used the term “Gregorian” because both Orders predated the Council of Trent. When Trent revised the Gregorian Mass, and St. Teresa founded the Discalced Carmelites as part of the Counter-Reformation, she adopted the Tridentine Mass.

I’m not sure whether there’s a “Vatican II Ambrosian Mass,” or if they just use the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. However, apparently the bishops of Milan have been even more hostile to retaining their unique liturgical tradition than bishops in the Roman Rite (this also gets to the difference between Rite and Church, since Rome and Milan have different Rites but are subject to the same Patriarch and the same Code of Canon Law).

So, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has ruled that the principles of Summorum Pontificum apply to those who are members of the Diocese of Milan (and relevant adjacent diocese) who wish to practice *their* traditional liturgy, as well as to those who want the traditional Roman Missal.

Here’s what I wonder: if Summorum Pontificum and Cardinal Ratzinger’s pre-papal writings, along with St. Pius V’s Quo Primum, contend that no ancient Rite can be “abrogated,” what are the rules regarding a priest *outside* the Diocese of Milan?

Do Catholics interested in liturgical diversity and heritage have to fly to Milan, or fly a priest and schola *from* Milan, in order to experience the Ambrosian Rite? Can a priest, by the principles of Summorum Pontificum, study the Ambrosian Rite and practice it *outside* those dioceses?

I think it would be cool to start a “Shrine of the Universal Church,” where every liturgical tradition is represented at least once per year, if not regularly, at Mass, with the bare minimum being a Latin Paul VI Mass, a mass in the extraordinary Roman form, and a Byzantine Divine Liturgy.

Jill Stanek sets the record straight

It is taken for granted among liberals that abortions declined under Clinton and rose under Bush. Yet statisics from both the Centers for Disease Control and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s think tank) indicate that abortoins dropped drastically during George W. Bush’s time in office.

TOTUS: Obama Inc

The other day, I came across a new nickname for His Imperial Majesty that I like: TOTUS, “Teleprompter of the United States.” It also says something about Barack Obama’s totalitarian authority (boy, when Bush had the clear majority in 2004 and party control of both Houses of Congress, they Democrats sure weren’t saying “The people have voted for him, so we have to do everything he says”).

Anyway, it is common knowledge that TOTUS, aka Obama, Inc., has essentially taken over the banking industry and the car industry. In principle, I oppose socialism, especially at the federal level, but state capitalism can arguably be a different story. Allegedly, the original bail-out of Chrysler yielded a hefty profit, and we can only hope that the current bail-outs can be at least partially covered by the interest these corporations will have to pay on their government loans or the profits the government will yield from the stocks it has purchased.

In fact, I’d rather have our government funded by “state capitalism” than by taxation, as far as that goes.

Anyway, during the Democratic Primary, Hillary Clinton challenged Barack Obama’s lack of executive experience, saying that the presidency is not about on the job training. Then, during the final months of the election, Sarah Palin was criticized for her alleged lack of experience, while Obama defended himself by saying that he has “executive experience” from his days as a community organizer and from his years of running political campaigns.

Thomas Sowell might have mentioned Sarah Palin in musing that it’s one thing to have an inexperienced President, but quite another to have an inexperienced President who has appointed himself de facto chairman of the board of GM, Chrysler, and most major American banks. He’s telling corporations what to do, and he’s firing Presidents, and he has no business experience.

Sowell goes on to discuss how Edmund Burke said character matters more than constitution. Monetary value is a pledge of faith by the government. (Look at any dollar bill: it is technically a “legal note” indicating a certain value of money from the National Treasury; even though they got rid of the gold standard decades ago–and devaluing currency was one of the causes of the fall of Rome–that is still the presumption of our currency). A government that arbitrarily changes the amount of currency in circulation is violating the pledge inherent in its currency, one of government’s most basic trusts. How can a government that does that be trusted to hold faith on anything else?

Meanwhile, Rich Lowry, a columnist at National Review, points out that the government’s stake in the car manufacturers and banks constitutes a violation of the Clayton AntiTrust Act of 1914, which forbids the same person from sitting on the boards of directors of two companies in the same industry. Lowry points out that any of the notorious “robber barons” because of whom the AntiTrust Act was passed would salivate over the power wielded by

Two big names in defense of Christopher West

Dr. Michael Waldstein, the official translator of John Paul II’s book The Theology of the Body, has written a piece defending Christopher West against the “sweeping” criticisms of JPII Institute director Dr. David Schindler.

Meanwhile, Dr. Janet Smith, widely regarded as the top philosophical ethicist on contraception and NFP, has also made a reply to Schindler on the Knights of Columbus web site, in that many of the points Schindler highlighted in his piece are, as I have noted, found in many Catholic moral texts or are just pieces of sound advice.

Here is the text of Schindler’s criticisms.

Here is West’s video “The Playboy and the Pope”:

Majority of IVF embryos are "abnormal"

Fascinating.

One of the reasons for the founding of this blog was outrage over the use of in vitro fertilization for eugenic purposes: people “screening” known genetic defects by using IVF.

Mary Meets Dolly reports that researchers have discovered that the *majority* of embryos conceived in IVF carry genetic disorders. A few days ago, I discussed the idea of “reverse consequentialism” where we point to the negative consequences of violating Natural Law as proof that the action violates Natural Law.

Well, for some reason, unnaturally conceiving embryos via IVF causes those embryos to mutate.

Pope says that, to teach, we must believe people can learn

One of the basic presumptions of our society, ironically a side-effect of Darwinism, is the presumption that people cannot change or grow spiritually. The fundamental premise of modern liberals is that people are what they are, and we cannot hold people to a higher standard.

In an address on Catholic education in Italy, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI recently stated that fundamental to Catholic education is the encouragement to grow, and the obligation of each individual to be the best person he or she can be.

Majority of IVF embryos are "abnormal"

Fascinating.

One of the reasons for the founding of this blog was outrage over the use of in vitro fertilization for eugenic purposes: people “screening” known genetic defects by using IVF.

Mary Meets Dolly reports that researchers have discovered that the *majority* of embryos conceived in IVF carry genetic disorders. A few days ago, I discussed the idea of “reverse consequentialism” where we point to the negative consequences of violating Natural Law as proof that the action violates Natural Law.

Well, for some reason, unnaturally conceiving embryos via IVF causes those embryos to mutate.

News Flash! Archbishop of Barcelona compares Abortion and Contraception to the Holocaust

As both are mass assaults on human life. Somehow, this is surprising to people.

Cardinal Martinez Sistach better watch out, though: “trivializing” the holocaust by saying it’s comparable to other forms of mass murder may constitute “holocaust denial” in the minds of some European Union socialists and get him arrested.

Right to die? Right to control? Obligation to Die?

Two interesting commentaries on euthanasia: one from a letter to the editor in British Columbia, and the other from EWTN’s Colleen Carroll Campbell.

Adult stem cells used to help cornea patients with contact lenses

Using patients’ own stem cells to graft tissue onto contact lenses, doctors in Australia have found an efficient and low cost way of helping people with cornea damage.

He’s played mobsters, and he’s played the Devil,

and now Al Pacino is going to play Dr. Jack Kevorkian.